Finding Shield Pennies Metal Detecting

What Are Shield Pennies Worth (Which One Is Valuable?)

Have you ever examined a handful of coins while searching for something unique about them? If so, you might have noticed that some pennies come with an impressive shield. These coins are special, and they have been around since 2010. The government has been minting hundreds of thousands of these pennies every year since 2010, but have you ever wondered how much they’re worth? Have you ever asked yourself if they’re worth more than their face value?

The melt value of Shield pennies is usually less than their face value, which is $0.0078 per coin. Uncirculated shield coins go for $0.32 each, but a proof shield penny with a mint mark can go for about $16. The proof and error coins can go for, even more, depending on their condition.

Back of Shield Penny
Back of Shield Penny
Front of Shield Penny
Front of Shield Penny

Different types of shield coins in the market vary in value. Therefore, in this article, we will show you the exact value of some of these coins. We’ll also elaborate more on their history and the different types of shield pennies available.

What Are Shield Pennies?

Shield pennies are unique 1-cent coins with a union shield symbol on their flip side. The government introduced these cents in 2010 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial. And since then, they have been minting some every year. These pennies have a unique symbol denoting where minting occurred.

These pennies were composed of copper and zinc, and each one of them weighed about 2.5 grams. (source) Generally, most of these coins are not valuable; they’re worth a premium in uncirculated conditions. However, some of these coins have designs intended explicitly for collectors, are never released in circulation, and are pretty valuable.

They don’t have reeds and are about .0598 inches thick with a diameter of about 0.750 inches. The obverse part of the penny has a symbol resembling the likeliness of Abraham Lincoln, which has been featured in American coins since 1909. (source)

The reverse or tail features a unique union shield with thirteen vertical stripes. It also includes the United States national motto on top of the shield. There is a banner draped across the obverse side of the penny. Some of the inscriptions on the reverse part of the coins include:

  • One cent
  • E-Pluribus Unum
  • The United States of America

The obverse inscriptions on the shield pennies include:

  • Year of manufacture
  • In God, we trust
  • Liberty

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Who Designed the Shield Pennies?

Lyndall Bass and Victor Brenner designed the shield coins. Lyndall Bass was in charge of designing the flip side of the pennies, while Victor Brenner designed the front. (source)

What Is the Origin of the Shield Pennies?

The American pennies can trace their origin to 1792 when the US Mint was established, and the first few coins were made. The first US Mint was in Philadelphia, and soon other mints with their own marks were established. There are four active penny mints (West Point, San Francisco, Denver, and Philadelphia) in the United States. (source)

The first coins featured a lady with flowing hair that symbolizes liberty. And unlike the current coins, the original coins were giant and made from pure copper. Liberty remained on these coins for 60 years before it was replaced by an Indian Head design. (source)

In honor of Lincoln’s 100th birthday, the government introduced his image in all their coins. Brenner Victor designed Lincoln’s image that’s used to date. On the other hand, the shield was adopted in 2009. Between 1909 and 1958, the tail of these coins featured two wheat sheaves.

Lincoln Memorial replaced the wheat sheaves that Frank Gasparro designed to commemorate President Lincoln’s 150th birthday in 1959. The update was announced by James Hagerty, the president’s press secretary, on December 21, 1958. But they were officially launched on February 12, 1959, to commemorate Lincoln’s 150th anniversary.

How Did the Shield on the Back Side of the Coin Originate?

Origination of Shield Penny Back Side
Origination of Shield Penny Back Side

According to the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005, from 2010, the coins will bear President Lincoln’s emblem on the front. (source) The emblem served as a preservation of the US as a united and single nation. After the law was enacted, the American federal government’s independent agency met in 2009 and discussed the design of the new Lincoln coin.

The Independent agency announced the current Lincoln Shield penny in 2009. The new design featured the Union Shield on the back and Abraham Lincoln’s image on the front. The back part of this coin was designed by Bass Lyndall and sculpted by Joseph Menna. (source) Finally, they were minted and first released in Puerto Rico due to a shortage of coins on the island in January 2010.  

The following month, these coins were officially launched at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s ceremony in Springfield, Illinois. (source) Over the years, the mint has produced thousands of coins with a unique symbol denoting where it was minted and the year they were produced.

What Is the Value of the Lincoln Shield Pennies?

Broken Die Shield Penny
Broken Die Shield Penny photo credit Ebay

Generally, a vast percentage of the shield pennies are worth around $0.01, but some collector pennies are pretty valuable. Remember, they have been minting these pennies since 2010, but some are exceptional. Some of these coins were not released into circulation; collectors consider the specimen pieces valuable.

Some of the valuable shield pennies are:

Description and Link to EbayValue on Ebay
2021 P Die Cud Retained “K3-K7” link Ebay$475.00
2019 W West Point Premium PROOF Lincoln Shield Cent Penny link Ebay$39.99
2022 P Lincoln Shield Penny, Brilliant Uncirculated link Ebay$1.89

The 2017-P Shield Penny

In commemorating the United States mints’ 225th anniversary, the Philadelphia Mint produced pennies with a “P” mint mark. The US mint didn’t announce that they would produce such pennies, but they did confirm their authenticity.

They reported that it was to celebrate their 225th anniversary. The only US Mint that manufactured these unique shield pennies was the one in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the pennies minted the following year didn’t have the mint mark. (source)

The mint mark is engraved on the observed part of the coin right below the minting year. Therefore, they are pretty valuable; their price ranges between 1 cent and over $3.00 in an uncirculated condition. (source)

The 2017 S ($22) and 2017 D ($21) are rare; they minted only 979,000 units. Therefore, they can be quite valuable if they’re in great condition.

2019-W Shield Pennies

The US Mint announced that their West Point branch would manufacture pennies with a “W” mint mark (war) on them in 2019. These coins weren’t released to circulation; they were for collector’s sets. These pennies had unique finishes for their annual set: reverse proof, proof, and uncirculated. (4)

During that year, the West Point Mint released only 899,000 pieces worth between 65 cents and $15, depending on their quality.

2012 D and 2012 S Shield Pennies

These two pennies were released in 2012, which you can find them in considerable amounts in the mint states. The value of these pennies ranges between 1 cent and $25. But the MS69 and MS 68 are very costly. There is an MS 68 penny sold in Denver for over $1,000. (source)

There is only one coin minted for MS 68+ in Denver, and it was never released in circulation. And it is estimated to be over $3,000. (source)

Proof Shield Penny
Proof Shield Penny

Proof Coins

Proof pennies are samples of a coin minted for testing and archival purposes. These coins are designed for collector’s sets. They are exceptional, and the main difference between the proof and other coins is that they have a mirror-like surface and sharp details.

They’re rare; depending on the conditions, these coins can be worth between $3 and $160. 

Error Coins

Other coins that are way more costly than Lincoln shield coins are the error coins. (source) Generally, these coins were produced incorrectly and can be pretty unique. Remember, these coins should be mistaken for damaged shield coins. Errors are unintended mistakes that make them unique and not any damage they incur while being minted. (source)

How Can I Determine if I Have Found Valuable Shield Pennies?

Mint-Marks and Dates

The most valuable years are 2017 and 2019; therefore, you should confirm the date. Remember, some of these coins were never released in circulation and can be pretty valuable. The other thing you have to consider is the mint marks.

  • P- Philadelphia
  • W- West Point
  • S- San Francisco
  • D- Denver

The pennies produced in San Francisco are samples. Therefore, they are prepared for collectors and can be pretty valuable. The last thing you should consider is the condition of the coins. Remember, damage-free pennies tend to be more costly. But it would be best to always correct a damaged coin for an error penny.

Evaluate Its Condition

With the above knowledge and having confirmed the mint marks and dates, you should next evaluate its condition. Generally, the shape of the pennies is considered on grading scales ranging between mint state and poor state. Finally, you can send it for grading and find its exact value.    

Final Verdict

Nothing is more attractive than discovering that you have some unique shield coins. The history of these coins is more than enough for coin collectors, but did you know they are valuable? The proof pennies can go for up to $160, while error pennies can be pretty unique, so why don’t you take your pennies for grading and find out how much they can be worth?

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David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.


  1. United States Mint staff, Penny, accessed November 14, 2022.
  2. Wikipedia contributor, Mint-made errors, accessed November 14, 2022.
  3. Wikipedia contributor, United States Mint, accessed November 14, 2022.
  4. Presidential $1 coin act of 2005, accessed November 14, 2022.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, Lincoln Cent, accessed November 14, 2022.
  6. Coin trackers staff, 2017-P Shield Penny, accessed November 14, 2022.
  7. YouTube contributors, Pay attention to these valuable shield penny errors!! Surprising sell prices!!, accessed November 14, 2022.

YouTube contributor, Valuable 2012 pennies to look for! Pennies worth money. accessed November 14, 2022.

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